September 30, 2016 Subject:
Uneven but not bad
This show definitely has its moments, high and low ones. With their sometimes staggering unevenness GD could stumble in the beginning of a song and then turn it into a masterpiece. China Cat is a vivid example here. Falstart by Jerry, then he completely flubs the lyrics but finishes the song with mild and creative transition jam.
Also highlights here are "Deal" bursting with energy but having an unexpectedly mellow jamming and the beginning of "Lost Sailor". I was caught off guard completely at the end of "Drums" and couldn't believe the guys are venturing not into "Space" but into more earthly stuff.
June 27, 2016 Subject:
March '81 East coast. I saw a couple shows of that March tour but not this one, but I do remember having the Cleveland tape and thinking about how long that jam was into "I know you rider" - I guess sometimes its a good thing when Garcia spaces out on the lyrics, he breaks into it but can't get the first verse out, and goes back to jamming, more musical goodies for us because they are in no hurry no. There are so many cool things in this jam- Garcia laying some bluegrass touches among the moments of electric gestalt fire- Weir and Garcia chemistry? - this is surely a fine example. The whole band is towing that line together....Then finally the Rider, Garcia joining in on the typically Weir only verse, hey did we just time warp to the early 70's? Jerry turns it up to close this one out in grand fashion. This is a slow burner that will always be a favorite.
The show as a whole is kind of like how the tour was- versions of songs that are way beyond, but the entire thing is not front to back 5 stars.
5 stars in some places and 4 for the lot. Oh and 5 plus for the best audience recording of 1981. What I liked about this tour is at times they just wanted to keep going and have some fun with it- there was none of that self imposed jam curfew that began to creep in as time progressed. Any head needs this one.
June 22, 2015 Subject:
Interesting how frequently Casey Jones was played from it's inception through 1974 and then with increasingly rarity over the remaining years. One theory might be they wore it out. Another might be that cocaine became increasingly popular in the late 70's and early 80's, particularly with certain band members, and maybe they didn't enjoy singing about it while they were using. Or, as Bobby always likes to say, maybe they just forgot it.
Reviewer:Go Faster, Get Rounder
March 12, 2015 Subject:
STOP! DOWNLOAD! COME!
Yeah, it is that good, both the recording and the band's playing during this stretch.
This is indeed one the great unknowns, or the best show you've never heard about (or heard before), until you listen and you'll have to concur!
Something about the venue, which resembles in size and form the fabled Barton Hall, albeit a bit more ornate and slightly smaller. Nevertheless, the airy spaces, starting with Winterland of course, were always conducive to the great modulations in Dead performances.
All that aside, this is just one of those performances that is extra special. For me, there isn't a better China>Rider bridge than the one that opens the second set.
January 21, 2014 Subject:
This is a very nice audience recording from one of my favorite eras of the Dead. As already stated, this is a great show top to bottom. They were normally on fire during this time. I have the board and I used to be quick to dismiss an aud. But this recording makes me think twice. More enjoyable than the board imo. 5 stars all around.
September 27, 2012 Subject:
Who needs a board
Who needs a sound board when the show smokes like this one here. The sound is Unreal. Not many shows get 5 stars from me not sure why just haven't givin out many but this here is 5 all the way
February 14, 2011 Subject:
This is arguably the great over-looked show of this era. The Stranger opener is so spot-on as to seem like it was mid-set or even a second set opener. The crowd must’ve been stunned and their reaction at the end hints at this. Peggy-O is just, well, perfect. Big RR Blues is smokin’ hot and sounds like Garcia is dancing on top of the very strong backing of the rest of the band. Bird Song is my favorite from this period of the Dead. The only ones I think surpass it are 8/27/72 & 6/22/73 but those are just too wild. This version of Bird Song is light years beyond the famous Cole Field House version later in the week that though about 18 minutes in length sounds like Jerry is drunk or forgot about the rest of the band or both. This one is concise, focused and has mini-jams inside that are group improvisation at its finest. Deal is yet another example of the super cool combined group effort where the band is just easily wailing and conjuring up pretty wicked ju-ju.
The China is listed as over 11 minutes long and not a note is wasted. Jerry flubs the lyrics to the first verse before spending the remaining ten minutes radiating mature mastery of both guitar and voice. Same telepathic and inspired group-think improv here as evidenced in Bird Song earlier. Rider is a connoisseurs dream: not flashy or too clever, but almost outrageous intricacy and searing heat. And speaking (writing?) of heat, the Samson blazes and is a perfect group rock and roll statement. The outro jam of He’s Gone generously explores the wonderful cascading musical figure typical of that jam with the crowd on percussion and then for the last three minutes or so there is a simply fantastic and rare Type II jam bursting with ideas and again is notably focused and composed. Killer, killer stuff. The Black Peter is typically great for the era with superb concert sound and lovely flourishes from Brent and Bobby. Casey Jones finishes things up with a classic warm breeze feel.
Of course this all captured perfectly by Jedi recording master Bob Wagner. Screw SBD’s! This is about a million time better. All instruments are perfectly represented in three dimensional glories from the sweet spot of a small classical venue (first row center balcony). Vocals are precise and in awesome stereo with superior presence and mix. The audience is plenty enthusiastic but mostly overwhelmed by this stunning performance. The band surely made some life-long fans in Cleveland that night. This and the MSG 05/09/81 & Nassau 05/06/1981 shows are perhaps the best shows of what was their last truly great year. Garcia’s voice is still pure and young and his guitar tone and technique is simply masterful. His guitar playing is expressive, melodious and often quite. I came in to the scene in 1985 and saw some real keepers: Hershey ’85, Alpine 88, Formerly the Warlocks ‘89, Cap Center 1990. It was all pretty wonderful, but it wasn’t night after night after night of shining glory like this era and a few eras before it. Be here now or be there now. Both are pretty darned great places.